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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Informed Dissent

Besides maverick, change, terrorist, hope and plumber, there’s been one word we’ve heard a lot of in this campaign: taxes. And that’s great,cause I don’t want to talk about the other five.

Now, taxation is exceedingly simple; a group of people sit around in a circle and decide to put money in the middle so they can buy stuff. It’s basically a high stakes version of the game you play when the check comes at the end of a group meal. And inevitably, both at Sudwerks and in the Senate, the most blood spills over how much money to put in the pot.

There are some who want to put all the money in the middle. We call these people communists, and no one takes them very seriously anymore except old people, Michelle Bachmann and the hippies that invade the Quad during the Whole Earth Festival.

Then there are those who want to put most of it in the middle. We call these people Northern Europeans, and they consistently rank as the most educated, most healthy and most economically prosperous people in the world.

Others want to put just some of it in the middle. These people are called Democrats, and no one likes them. They don’t want to put enough in to accomplish much of anything, but they do want to put enough in to upset ignorant rednecks and the corporatocracy.

Still others want to put just enough in the middle to pay for space lasers and corporate welfare. They’re called Republicans, and they want to keep people in ignorance, in fear, in debt and incapable of doing anything about it.

Then there’s that one last group that doesn’t want to put any money in the middle at all. They’re called economics professors, and you can discern these fine souls by their office décor; invariably, there will rest upon their desk a gilded bust of Milton Friedman sitting atop Atlas Shrugged book-marked with a picture of Ronald Reagan signed by Alan Greenspan. When cornered, they retreat rapidly into models of perfect competition and omniscient actors, and are often heard using the pretense of comparative advantage to justify labor arbitrage and environmental destruction. They suck, and will mark you down on exams for arguing in favor of unions, trade protections and government spending on education.

Anyhow, here in America we have just two options, which candidates boldly embody in each election. Until now.

Now, we don’t have our typical Unilever campaign (you know, Democrat and Republican a la Dove and Axe; totally different marketing strategies for equivalent products which funnel money into the same pockets). Instead, Barack Obama is running as the Republican, and John McCain is running as the Anti-Christ. Allow me to explain.

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, Obama’s tax cuts would add $3.5 trillion dollars to China’s coffers/our national debt by 2018. He claims he would increase revenue by $1 trillion when he talks to folks, but it’s a farce. First, the numbers he talks about aren’t the ones his campaign officially proposes. Second, the increase is predicated oncurrent policy,notcurrent law.It’s a matter of baseline; current law dictates that Bush’s tax cuts expire in 2010, but by sayingcurrent policyObama can compare his plan to Bush’s failure and declare victory. But if we compare his official campaign proposals to the actual law, Obama will continue to sell this nation’s dwindling prosperity to Asia and the Middle East more rapidly than any other president in history save Bush.

This is beyond troubling, but what John McCain proposes is outright absurd. His plan suffers from the same failings: he doesn’t say what he means and his baseline is jacked. If you believe his official campaign, he would add a whopping $7.3 trillion to the deficit. But if you believe what he tells his friends, McCain would add – are you ready for this? – over $10.9 trillion to the national debt by 2018. I am, for lack of any words, pyqvamgz.

As Supreme Court Justice O.W. Holmes once said,I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.I dig that. But at this point, we won’t be in the market much longer.


K.C. CODY is still bitter about the B he got in econ. Collegiate liberal bias his ass. Fellow persecuted Keynesians can commiserate with him at kccody@ucdavis.edu.


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